Pork, king of the BBQ
There is room at the barbecue for all proteins, but pork leads the way at the barbecue pit. With pulled pork, ribs, ham and sausage, one protein can offer a wealth of eating experiences.
Patrick Fleming, Director of Retail Marketing for the National Pork Board, points out that barbecue
started with pork.
“There’s a reason why we’ve dominated since the beginning— it’s the unique combination of
texture and flavor and the ability to carry other flavors,” he says. “Pork is very open to changing
flavor profiles just by changing your spice rub or your wood, and then of course your sauces. Pork is
a really good conveyor of flavor.”
He points to shows like “BBQ Pitmasters” on
Destination America and other TV shows that
have helped spur the popularity of barbecue while
taking some of the mystery out of the process.
“There was always some fear that you couldn’t
do it, but once you try it, it’s not that hard, and
you can make something that really tastes amazing in your own backyard,” he says.
Fleming says that a pork shoulder is one of
the best value meats that a consumer can have. A
lightly seasoned batch of pulled pork can be used
in a wide range of products and flavors: traditional
American barbecue, Asian barbecue, a pizza
topping, or even a salad topping.
That versatility makes it a hit with consumers
at retail and foodservice alike. Fleming compares
“Once you have that product, you can create a
thousand different things with it. From a back of
house standpoint, there is a lot of flexibility with
pulled pork,” he says. “We’ve really been excited
about the expansion of that, both in foodservice
and at retail.”
Ribs are, of course, a summertime grilling
staple, and Fleming notes the prevalence of preseasoned as well as pre-cooked barbecue ribs at retail. Both items take a step or two out of the
preparation process for consumers, allowing them
to have a restaurant-quality barbecue meal at
This summer, the National Pork Board is
helping to promote the use of chops as a barbecue
item. The decision by the USDA to lower the
cooking temperature for pork products opens a
new world of tastes for consumers.
“You can have pork chops medium rare — a
different eating experience from Grandma’s overcooked chops,” Fleming says with a chuckle.
The Board’s new point-of-sale kits, themed
“Grill Crashers” and “Cook It Like a Steak,” also
take advantage of the new nomenclature for pork
loins and chops. A Porterhouse chop is a great
item for a summer cookout on the grill.
“We’ve been telling retail and trade in general
that a thicker chop will grill better. The industry
has been cutting thinner and thinner, and thin is
okay for certain applications,” Fleming notes.
“But a thicker chop will provide more of that
juicy, tender, flavorful experience.”
For more information about the pork POS kits
and more, go to www.porkretail.org.